It has been a busy, and snowy, last few days at St. Joseph’s Indian School.
On Friday, we were scheduled to send 12 hand game participants and 17 archery contestants to Rapid City, South Dakota to take part in the 40th Annual Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI), but the roads were projected to be too dangerous to travel. LNI is a yearly gathering of Native Americans to take part in arts and crafts competition along with athletic, cultural and language contests.
Our Knowledge Bowl participants headed out on Thursday, so they were able to compete over the weekend. St. Joseph’s team earned 3rd place overall! Lily and Justin, two of our high school students, were awarded 1st place
in Grammar and Literature, respectively. We are so very proud of them.
As some of you may know, this year has been proclaimed a Holy Year of Mercy by Pope Francis. Part of the celebration calls for people to visit the Cathedral and pass through the Holy Door as part of a pilgrimage. I joined parishioners from St. James Catholic Church in Chamberlain and St. Margaret Catholic Church in Kimball to visit the Cathedral of St. Joseph’s in Sioux Falls.
To meet the requirements for the plenary indulgence, the trip was geared to have the opportunity for Confession, to offer prayer for Pope Francis’ intentions and to receive the Eucharist by joining in the noon Mass. After the Mass, we were given a guided tour of the Cathedral and the renovations that were done in the past few years. The group joined together at a local Perkins for lunch before heading home. We enjoyed sharing reflections of what had impressed people the most about the experience and the tour.
What a week here at St. Joseph’s! You may recall we were hit with over six inches of snow a week ago Monday and now we are wondering where it all went! The snow was on the ground for several days, but when area temperatures began to rise, it melted quickly. However, do not fear… the students were able to get some sledding in, snowballs thrown and snow forts built!
To help those in Dancing Dolls and Dudes have enough time to get ready for their big recital debut on Sunday, we moved our normal Sunday morning Mass to Saturday afternoon. At the end of Mass, St. Nicholas, St. Joseph’s own President, Mike, stopped by to visit with the children and pass out goodies to those who could answer some questions he had. Everyone was excited seeing Saint Nick, knowing he’ll soon be making his rounds on Christmas Eve.
The Dancing Dolls and Dudes recital went well! The Dolls were divided by age and each group performed two or three dance numbers. The young men taking part all danced together. A few days later, at the end of the Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we had our dancers stand and took a moment to congratulate them on their performance with a round of applause.
The Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center was recently honored by the South Dakota Department of Tourism with the South Dakota Great Service Star for 2015. This is an award given to tourist spots within the state that give exceptional customer service. We want to extend our congratulations to Dixie and her team at the museum for their efforts! They truly do a fantastic job.
Some of our sixth, seventh and eighth grade boys participate in the local Explorers group with young men their age from the local public school. Every year, the young men ‘take to the town’ and perform odd jobs as a way to raise funds for a worthy cause. This year, they began their quest to raise money to assist in purchasing an automated external defibrillator (AED) for the Chamberlain Middle School. After they began saving their money, they became aware of someone many of the boys knew who had just been diagnosed with cancer and decided to make that person the main focus of their money raising efforts! They will still be making a donation for the AED, but the boys are all excited to give back to someone who means a lot to them!
With Christmas getting closer, various decorations are going up around campus. The nativity scene was put up where the tipi stands just outside the Akta Lakota Museum. Several of the Homes have also gotten into the holiday spirit and the rest will get busy this weekend so they’ll all have everything in place by the time Christmas break arrives.
I hope your time of preparation for Christmas is moving along smoothly. While it is nice to get all the externals—baking, cards, gifts and decorations—going, may we take a moment to get ourselves ready so there will be room in our hearts when the Prince of Peace comes. Have a great week.
It’s another lovely day in the neighborhood… although the evil word SNOW has been mentioned on the weather reports! We have yet to see any and are thankful for mild fall weather.
Since the Lakota (Sioux) youth have begun second quarter, we recently held an awards ceremony for quarter one. The rewards for A and B honor rolls and perfect attendance are a certificate and a WalMart gift card. If a student is on the honor roll with perfect attendance next quarter, the award may increase in value! We also have a contest between age groups to see which class can achieve the highest GPA (Grade Point Average). The one with the highest average gets a pizza party and hangs the award plaque in their classroom.
We honored all veterans and those actively serving our country during Sunday Mass at Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel. THANK YOU just isn’t enough for their sacrifices.
Last Saturday, the Chamberlain Science Club hosted the 1st Annual Hot Chocolate 5K Walk/Run, and it began here on St. Joseph’s campus. It was a way to celebrate Native American Month and learn about the importance of exercise all year long. Sanford Hospital set up an informational booth and there were baked goodies and warm drinks for all those taking part.
Students are in the process of learning to sing two Christmas carols in the Lakota language — Silent Night and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Aside from what they are learning in class, singing songs is a nice way to keep developing the Lakota language skills of our students.
This week, St. Joseph’s is honored to welcome Mr. Lawrence Diggs, our current Artist in Residence. He is helping our students express themselves through poetry!
St. Joseph’s was honored to have one of our Native American Studies teachers, Allen, give a presentation on historical trauma in American Indian History to a college class at Dakota Wesleyan University. He shared how early boarding schools tried to negate Native American culture and heritage and ‘mold’ them into the white culture by cutting their hair and not letting them speak their native languages. He also spoke about high rates of unemployment, suicide and sexual assaults currently present on the reservations.
He also shared positive notes about how the reservations are working hard to combat suicides and offer resources to those who are struggling. Change will not happen overnight, but he is happy that steps are being taken to get things headed in the right direction and he is proud to be part of that process. Read more in the article that appeared in the Mitchell Daily Republic!
We hope you have a wonderful week. Say pilamaya – thank you – to a veteran and let them know you are grateful for their service to our country.
Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ
PS: The picture shows our tree of remembrance in Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel with the names of our Beloved Dead whom we are keeping in prayer this month.
Holy Week began yesterday morning here at St. Joseph’s Indian School. Outside, the South Dakota wind gusted across the prairie at 20-30 miles per hour. The cool
nature of the wind and the sound of its force against the walls and windows of the chapel provided the setting for our morning. The Spirit was moving!
As students, staff and a few visitors gathered in the Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel, our Palm Sunday Service began with Fr. Anthony blessing the palms. Deacon Bud proclaimed the Gospel of our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The assembly dispersed to the hallways on either side of the chapel to re-enact the procession along the road that Jesus traveled.
Banner carriers holding the colors of the Four Directions led the assembly back into the chapel accompanied by our student drum group singing and playing a traditional song. Everyone found their places and held their palms high as our dancers processed forth in traditional regalia down the center aisle. They were followed by the Eagle Staff Bearer, altar servers, Fr. Anthony and Deacon Bud. It was quite the multi-cultural celebration of our traditional Palm Sunday.
The morning’s Lakota liturgy also included the Lord’s Prayer said in Lakota and Amazing Grace sung by our student choir in both Lakota and English. Mass ended with our weekly Happy Birthday announcements and acknowledgement sung in Lakota, “Nita anpetu waste.”
I describe this celebration because I was awed by how our Catholic traditions and elements of the Lakota (Sioux) culture blended at this Palm Sunday Mass.
Not only was it great to see our students involved in dancing, playing the drums, speaking the language and singing, but also the colors, the movement and the language enhanced the meaning of the liturgy.
As we entered into the holiest of weeks in our Church year, one that begins with triumph and endures through crucifixion to Easter glory, the blending of our culture and our common history and humanity spoke powerfully of the mystery we celebrate.
At St. Joseph’s, we provide our students with a holistic array of services, thanks to the generosity of friends like you. Through the support of many, their hands and feet in solidarity with our mission, we are able to carry this important ministry, helping children and families.
Yesterday’s Palm Sunday Service was one of many ways we look to preserve the Lakota culture for our students.
Pilamaya – thank you – for providing these opportunities!
This was a big weekend at St. Joseph’s Indian School with the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children (RCIC) Sacramental Prep Class having a mini-retreat on Saturday. Over 30 students are preparing to receive the sacraments of Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation, which is a decision they make with their families.
Most of the class will be baptized and receive the other two sacraments. Nine are preparing just for First Communion and one, who is already baptized in another denomination, will be making a Profession of Faith and then receive First Communion. The students have been studying since early October. They joined with others around the world to take part in the Rite of Election on Sunday by which they again affirm their desire to draw closer to God and sign their names in the Book of the Elect which acknowledges their commitment in front of the whole faith community present at Mass.
As you can see from the pictures, they made stoles decorated with various symbols relating to the sacraments and will wear them when they are baptized. In Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel I explained the vestments, colors, books, chalices and paten, the altar and tabernacle and sanctuary lamp.
They also had the opportunity to practice receiving the host and taking a sip of wine, which brought out some interesting facial expressions!
Another session dealt with the seven Gifts of the Spirit, followed by painting a blessing cup. They made bread, which was shared with their individual homes. It was a wonderful time helping them prepare for their big day in April!
Also on Saturday the fourth, fifth and sixth grade Braves took part in a basketball tournament hosted by Chamberlain. Teams came from surrounding communities in central South Dakota. Sadly our fourth and sixth grade teams went out early despite keeping their games close. Our fifth grade team lost their first game but came back strong to beat Crow Creek and Mitchell to capture third place. Way to go guys!
Besides the basketball tournament, there was also a wrestling mini-clinic that some of our younger boys took part in. Thank you for helping us offer the Lakota children a variety of activities to help them cultivate lifelong interests!
I hope you have a great week as the month of February comes to an end. Know you and your intentions are remembered in our prayers as the children ask the Great Spirit to bless and reward you for your generosity for their education and care.
After nearly three years of “silence,” the pipe organ in the choir loft at Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel thrilled under
the fingertips of local music teacher and organist Faye S. on December 7, 2014 – the Second Sunday of Advent. It was a special event set in motion by the annual tuning visit of Radanovich & Associates, the company that built and installed the organ. Joseph Radanovich had reminded Aaron (Faye’s son and employee of St. Joseph’s Indian School) that, unlike many instruments that grow out-of-tune by use, the organ must be played.
That reminder led to a collaboration between Faye and me, which resulted in the special Mass. Some 20 students attended a practice with Faye the Wednesday beforehand. The purpose of the practice was not only to polish the Advent music sung only during this season, but also to get past the jitters and excitement of singing from the choir loft – a rare treat.
When Sunday morning arrived, Faye teased powerful, expressive praise from the organ, accompanied by Aaron on the bass. The choir filled the loft with their presence and Our Lady of Sioux with their song: Come, come, Emmanuel; Son of God appear. Heaven and earth rejoice. Salvation is drawing near.
The assembly below bustled with a true sense of rejoicing. Following the celebration, many offered notes and comments of appreciation.
What a joy to have the opportunity to celebrate this season of joyful anticipation in this way! And what a remarkable thing that this organ, which was a gift to St. Joseph’s, can continue to bless and praise through the years.
Of interest: The organ was donated by St. Aloysius Parish of West Allis, Wisconsin, and dedicated on June 22, 1998. Joseph Radanovich was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he is owner of Radanovich & Associates. He lists his heritage as Polish, Serbian, Croatian, Hungarian, Russian and Jewish, with a splash of Swedish, Spanish, Irish and North African just for flavor! A Byzantine Catholic, he follows Native American spirituality as well. Adopted into a Lakota Sun Dance family at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, which straddles North and South Dakota, he is a Pipe Carrier and Traditional Dancer.
Cante’ Waste’ Nape Ciyuzapi Ksto/lo – I greet you with a warm and heartfelt handshake!
My name is April, and I am an enrolled member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. My Indian name is Nagi Wi, which means Spirit Woman. My given name at birth is April. My name was given to me by a nun who helped deliver me. My St. Joseph’s name is Unci, which means grandma – I feel so honored to be their grandma! I have been here at St. Joes for eight-and-a-half years and love working with the children and their families.
My new title is Family/Student Care Specialist. I have the opportunity to get to know our new students more by meeting with them individually throughout the year to establish a bond. During our time together, students come to my office and write letters, color or draw and take pictures, which we send home to their families. We also make calls to their families. We want students to look at St. Joseph’s Indian School as their second home, and we want them to feel comfortable. We understand they will get lonesome, and that’s okay. We want to work through that and continue to do the best we can to care for the whole child – mind, body, heart and spirit.
Sometimes, students go home for the weekend and see their pictures and letters hanging on the fridge at home. This makes them so happy! They come to my office and tell me, “Guess what Unci! My mom has my picture we sent!” To see that little sparkle in their eyes is so heart-warming!
I have a saying that was given to me, and I do my best to go by this everyday as I walk in a good way with the children: Believe in yourself and your feelings. Trust yourself to do what your heart is guiding you to do. Your intuition is powerful. Trust it.
The excitement is growing at St. Joseph’s Indian School as we end All Staff Orientation Week. Around St. Joseph’s campus, this is a time of great anticipation. We are
renewing old acquaintances and preparing for the school year that lies ahead. Child Services Staff have had some time off and the spirits are high.
Although most Child Services Staff (houseparents, teachers and Family Service Counselors) were away for part of the summer, our Facilities Crew has been busy. The campus looks great! General upkeep and many maintenance projects have been finished with others nearing completion. The playground is torn up as we are preparing the area for our new playground equipment. It will be so awesome when it’s finished!
Our Development Staff has also been very busy this summer. They work with our generous donors to provide the necessary resources for all our programs. They are getting ready for events like our powwow in September and upcoming Donor Luncheons.
As we come back together after a break, there is visiting and catching up to do. Employees learn about each other’s summer trips; weddings we attended or even participated in; updates on changes that have happened in each other’s lives. There is home and classroom prep along with staff meetings.
We also catch up on what we have heard about our Lakota students. Are they having good or not-so-good summers? I saw so-and-so at the store, this or that. The Family Service Counselors have some updates from their travels, but there are other stories that will have to be checked out next week when the students arrive.
On Wednesday, all our staff came together for our traditional beginning of the year kickoff. We fittingly started with a prayer service in the Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel. We asked for guidance and inspiration from the Great Spirit in meeting our important mission for the children and families we serve. The prayer service was followed by an all-staff meeting and lunch.
Yes, spirits are high as we look to carry out the work of our mission this year! We are blessed to be the hands of our donors, working directly with the Lakota children and families who come to St. Joseph’s for help.
School is out! The last few days of school leading up to graduation were busy indeed.
Last Tuesday was devoted to Field Day activities, which kept everyone in grades 1-5 hopping.
During the morning, there were several different activities: Bingo for prizes, an obstacle course and various relays—tug of war, potato sack, scramble through tunnels races, etc. In the afternoon, activity move into the rec center where there were some very imaginative contests inspired by such shows as Minute to Win It and Fear Factor. One of the messiest was Digging for Worms – students were face to face with a plate of whipped cream, chocolate syrup and gummy worms. They had to go in and get the gummy worms – no hands!
On Thursday St. Joseph’s eighth graders enjoyed their annual retreat and graduation practice. During this time, we shared letters of encouragements from benefactors. Our Lakota students got a small taste of how many people are proud of their achievement and wishing them well with their futures.
If you wrote a letter, sent a card or kept our graduates in your prayers, thank you. The students were impressed and humbled by the well wishes of so many.
Later that afternoon, we had fourth quarter awards for Honor Roll and attendance. I’m pleased to announce 91 students had perfect attendance for the quarter, and there were several who had perfect attendance for the year!
Several made honor roll for the quarter and some even made it all four quarters. For this achievement, they were presented with a sweatshirt that showed they were a St. Joseph’s Indian School Honor Roll student. It was exciting to have several families present for the awards, on campus to sign children out for the summer.
Friday morning was graduation for 17 eighth graders. They made a banner that will hang in the rec center displaying their motto—‘You can’t master your future if you are still stuck in your past.’
Three students earned a Presidential Academic Award – a first for St. Joseph’s Indian School. Two young men received citizenship pins for their work with the local Explorers – another first. Proud families were in attendance and Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel was jammed full.
We hope you and yours had a wonderful Memorial Day and remembered our service men and women who gave their futures that we might enjoy our freedom today. May they rest in peace.